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Published: Wednesday May 7, 2014 MYT 6:10:02 AM
Updated: Wednesday May 7, 2014 MYT 6:10:02 AM

Obama: U.S. will 'do everything we can' to help find Nigeria girls - NBC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday the United States will do "everything we can" to help Nigeria in its search for more than 200 girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group.

Obama told NBC News in an interview that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had accepted U.S. offers for assistance.

"We're going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them. In the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies," he said.

In the longer term, he said, "we're also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this that can causes such havoc in people's day-to-day lives."

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight girls from a village near one of the Islamists' strongholds in northeastern Nigeria, police and residents said on Tuesday.

This followed the kidnapping of more than 200 other schoolgirls by the militant group last month, whom it has threatened to sell into slavery.

Obama, in a separate interview with ABC News, said the kidnappings were heartbreaking and outrageous.

"This may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that's perpetrated such a terrible crime," he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the United States was sending an "interdisciplinary team" including military personnel to help in the search.

"We are absolutely committed to helping Nigeria, but it is the Nigerian government's responsibility first and foremost to maintain the safety and security of its citizens," he said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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